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wineview

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Ignore the juice bag question I figured that one out. Tried to delete the post but can't seem to do it.

Anyway, I have some questions about the methods and ingredients of the Finer Wine Kit. I've been told that these kits are tweaked and directions should be followed exactly. I suppose I will jump into the experiment and be obedient, except for the early degassing directions.

I plan to start this Forte Series Tuscan kit in a month or so when the weather warms up but I started to read the enclosed directions. Some things don't strike me as quite right. I will make my comparisons to four years of fresh juice bucket winemaking.

For starters, does anyone know the exact ingredients in packages A,B and C? A & C look identical and are labeled Start Pack and Yeast Nutrient. To me they look like Urea and Diammonium Phosphate. In all my years of wine making I have stayed away from those products. LD Carlson sells the stuff and labels it, yeast nutrient. I've read that Diammonium Phosphate and Urea are junk food for yeast and I've always used Go-Ferm with excellent results. I have no idea what packet B is but the instructions call it Yeast starter and activator. Can anyone tell me with certainty, what these packages contain?

I'd like to jump to their racking directions. After 15 days, they instruct the wine maker to rack and degass at this early stage. I typically degass a week before bottling. That could be 11-12 months. Then they tell you to add a packet of Potassium Sorbate. I only use potassium sorbate if I had a stuck fermentation and would like some insurance that my bottles won't explode. My feeling is the fewer chemicals the better. The instructions claim if not used, the wine could become slightly carbonated; something I have not experienced.

I am throwing these questions out, because a lot of what I read in their pamphlet so far, doesn't match up with what I believe to be some basic wine making principals. I look forward to hearing from you all.

Let the discussion begin.
 

Ohio Bob

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My only concern is you’re not degassing after primary, or early in secondary. My experience is you want the CO2 out sooner.

If you know what you’re doing with nutrients I say pitch (get rid of) the kit supplied ones and go with your own. Kits are made for the general public who might not even care what’s in those packs. You could email the kit people to ask that question.

Sorbate, I guess that you are sizing up the situation acceptably. I add sorbate even if not back sweetening as insurance. For years I was adding sorbate at way higher levels, out of error, and don’t notice the difference. For very short time kits, i.e. 4 weeks, sorbate skipping might be disastrous to the rookie. I’d say that’s why it’s in there and why the kit says it’s important.
 

wineview

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My only concern is you’re not degassing after primary, or early in secondary. My experience is you want the CO2 out sooner.

If you know what you’re doing with nutrients I say pitch (get rid of) the kit supplied ones and go with your own. Kits are made for the general public who might not even care what’s in those packs. You could email the kit people to ask that question.

Sorbate, I guess that you are sizing up the situation acceptably. I add sorbate even if not back sweetening as insurance. For years I was adding sorbate at way higher levels, out of error, and don’t notice the difference. For very short time kits, i.e. 4 weeks, sorbate skipping might be disastrous to the rookie. I’d say that’s why it’s in there and why the kit says it’s important.

I suppose there could be a debate about degassing. I know wine makers who skip the process altogether and feel bulk aging degasses naturally. I chose to do it later for two reasons. I want to limit the number of times I rack out and my basement is rather chilly. If the wine is too cold, below 70F, it won’t degass properly anyway. Just tasted a cab after infusing French Oak spirals four weeks ago and almost lost my mind. Can’t wait until I bottle.
 
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@Matteo_Lahm or Matt (LP) listed the packet ingredients in another thread -- I don't have a link to it.

A few years ago I started degassing all wines after fermentation completes, as it helps the wine clear faster. Keep in mind that degassing at this stage of the process doesn't remove all CO2 -- it jump starts the process so it completes in days or weeks, not months.

For degassing I use a drill-mounted stirring rod, and I stir for 20-30 seconds, then reverse direction 3 to 5 times (max of 3 minutes total). This is less than a lot of kit instructions state (3 to 10 minutes). I don't bottle before 4 months (some reds 12+ months), and am fairly certain the wine is fully degassed within a couple of weeks.

I add the K&C after degassing, and rack 1 to 3 weeks later, depending more on schedule than anything. I don't normally rack again until bottling. You may get some fine lees in the carboy, but can safely ignore that.
 

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I suppose there could be a debate about degassing. I know wine makers who skip the process altogether and feel bulk aging degasses naturally. I chose to do it later for two reasons. I want to limit the number of times I rack out and my basement is rather chilly. If the wine is too cold, below 70F, it won’t degass properly anyway. Just tasted a cab after infusing French Oak spirals four weeks ago and almost lost my mind. Can’t wait until I bottle.
I'm struggling with degassing in part for the reason you mentioned, I also ferment in a cooler environment, usually low 60s. I also don't have a vacuum pump which would seemingly solve my degassing problem (I just siphon when racking or bottling). No 'wine whip' either. So that leaves me stirring like a mad man when I try to degas, which works fine, although I worry about oxidation (especially as a lifelong beer brewer). However, I also don't use potassium sorbate. So if there is any fermentation activity at all after I have done my degassing stir and all my bulk aging (or if I simply did not stir every last bit of CO2 out of suspension) then I am going to wind up with wine which has the tiniest bit of CO2 in the bottle. And that 'frizzante' thing is generally considered a flaw, although I hear it is sometimes appreciated in the 'natural wine' community.

So how should I degas better (short of buying a vacuum pump), given the cold temperatures I am dealing with, and also not wanting to add potassium sorbate? Should I splash rack at every racking? Do a degassing stir more than once (carefully adding more Kmeta to hopefully guard against the oxidation risk)? Should I add my heating brew belt of all of my wines as they complete fermentation and do any extended maceration in an effort to get them fully dry, before bulk aging? This is honestly the biggest issue I am having so far in my year plus of winemaking. Suggestions greatly appreciated.
 

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I'm struggling with degassing in part for the reason you mentioned, I also ferment in a cooler environment, usually low 60s. I also don't have a vacuum pump which would seemingly solve my degassing problem (I just siphon when racking or bottling). No 'wine whip' either. So that leaves me stirring like a mad man when I try to degas, which works fine, although I worry about oxidation (especially as a lifelong beer brewer). However, I also don't use potassium sorbate. So if there is any fermentation activity at all after I have done my degassing stir and all my bulk aging (or if I simply did not stir every last bit of CO2 out of suspension) then I am going to wind up with wine which has the tiniest bit of CO2 in the bottle. And that 'frizzante' thing is generally considered a flaw, although I hear it is sometimes appreciated in the 'natural wine' community.

So how should I degas better (short of buying a vacuum pump), given the cold temperatures I am dealing with, and also not wanting to add potassium sorbate? Should I splash rack at every racking? Do a degassing stir more than once (carefully adding more Kmeta to hopefully guard against the oxidation risk)? Should I add my heating brew belt of all of my wines as they complete fermentation and do any extended maceration in an effort to get them fully dry, before bulk aging? This is honestly the biggest issue I am having so far in my year plus of winemaking. Suggestions greatly appreciated.

Nice to see another brewer on this site. I brewed beer for 17 years before getting into wine. About the potassium sorbate issue. I have used it and I have skipped it. I am thinking of adding a bit this year for some extra protection because honestly I did not notice a taste difference in either batch. This is my opinion only, I'm sure there are others out that will jump all over this.

About degassing. I bought a monster all stainless steel wine whip from Home | Smart Winemaking | Make Better Wine at Home. It's a website started by Rick Haibach. He's a great winemaker and has tons of youtube videos out. I consider his advice top notch. I paid $25 for the wine whip and it does the job in short order. The price seems to have gone up to $33 SKU: 70520001, but again well worth it. Here is a picture in action and at rest. 10 minutes and you're done. I do 3-4 forward for about a minute or two and then in reverse letting the wine rest in-between bursts. Oh, and I wouldn't try this in a glass carboy. Plastic buckets only

Hope this helps.

whip.jpeg juice.jpeg
 

Khristyjeff

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If you need to degass in a glass carboy, this is what I use: Clean Bottle Express Wine/Beer DeGasser
Pop it in your drill and run it like @winemaker81 said above. 2-3 minutes max total time degassing. Only do this once. You are forcing gasses out of the wine, therefore you are not letting more oxygen in so no worry of oxidation. Good luck.
 

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Agreed, degas vigorously only once. I splash rack, letting the flow fall into the carboy rather than having the siphon hose exit below the surface of the racked wine. The next time I rack I’ll let some free fall and if it seems still, then submerge the hose. If it’s foamy, giving off CO2, then I splash rack.

Using a heat belt is ok for reds, but probably not whites. And not for long term, like months. The trade-off is you probably have to bulk age the wines longer if they’re at cooler temperatures. Ideally a wine cellar is about 50F, so if you bulk age at this, or as low as you can get, I think that would be preferable.
 
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So how should I degas better (short of buying a vacuum pump), given the cold temperatures I am dealing with, and also not wanting to add potassium sorbate? Should I splash rack at every racking? Do a degassing stir more than once (carefully adding more Kmeta to hopefully guard against the oxidation risk)? Should I add my heating brew belt of all of my wines as they complete fermentation and do any extended maceration in an effort to get them fully dry, before bulk aging? This is honestly the biggest issue I am having so far in my year plus of winemaking. Suggestions greatly appreciated.
Invest in a drill-mounted stirring rod. It's worth it. Mine resembles the following, and it work great in a bucket or carboy. The piece at the top rests on the mouth of a 19 or 23 liter carboy, so it can't go down too far.


The biggest fallacy regarding degassing is that it removes all CO2. First -- you don't want to remove all CO2 -- it provides some acidic flavoring and the wine may taste flat. The goal is to achieve a point where the CO2 in suspension is below the amount that will produce carbonation.

Manual degassing jump starts the degassing process, causing the wine to emit a lot of CO2. This will finish in succeeding days and weeks, not months. Do it just once.

With a drill-mounted stirring rod, kit instructions often state to stir for 30 seconds, then reverse direction 5 times, for a total of 3 minutes. I stir for 20 to 30 seconds each iteration, and may reverse direction only 3 times. This has proved sufficient. Note that the FWK instructions state to stir with a paddle for 3 minutes or a drill-mounted rod for 30 seconds, which is even less than what I do.

Post-fermentation, I add 1/4 tsp K-meta per 5/6 gallons at each racking, and every 3 months during bulk aging. @Rice_Guy has explained numerous times about this being an assumption of 0 ppm at each racking -- search for his explanations, which are better than mine. Also, @NorCal experimented with this, and his test showed that the final ppm using this method was about ~30 ppm (I cannot recall his exact numbers, but it was in this range).
 

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With a drill-mounted stirring rod, kit instructions often state to stir for 30 seconds, then reverse direction 5 times, for a total of 3 minutes. I stir for 20 to 30 seconds each iteration, and may reverse direction only 3 times.
At what speed? Gently or with a vortex as in post #6 above?
 
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At what speed? Gently or with a vortex as in post #6 above?
In between. Too gentle a stir may not produce results. Because of the amount of emitted CO2, I don't believe O2 is a problem at this process, but I target a smaller vortex than what is pictured. There's no way to measure, so I'm doing it by eye.

I use a corded variable speed drill, and sometimes I hit it a bit too hard and have produced a large vortex. I tried using my cordless drill (20 yo Ryobi) but it doesn't have enough power. A modern cordless may.
 

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Invest in a drill-mounted stirring rod. It's worth it. Mine resembles the following, and it work great in a bucket or carboy. The piece at the top rests on the mouth of a 19 or 23 liter carboy, so it can't go down too far.


The biggest fallacy regarding degassing is that it removes all CO2. First -- you don't want to remove all CO2 -- it provides some acidic flavoring and the wine may taste flat. The goal is to achieve a point where the CO2 in suspension is below the amount that will produce carbonation.

Manual degassing jump starts the degassing process, causing the wine to emit a lot of CO2. This will finish in succeeding days and weeks, not months. Do it just once.

With a drill-mounted stirring rod, kit instructions often state to stir for 30 seconds, then reverse direction 5 times, for a total of 3 minutes. I stir for 20 to 30 seconds each iteration, and may reverse direction only 3 times. This has proved sufficient. Note that the FWK instructions state to stir with a paddle for 3 minutes or a drill-mounted rod for 30 seconds, which is even less than what I do.

Post-fermentation, I add 1/4 tsp K-meta per 5/6 gallons at each racking, and every 3 months during bulk aging. @Rice_Guy has explained numerous times about this being an assumption of 0 ppm at each racking -- search for his explanations, which are better than mine. Also, @NorCal experimented with this, and his test showed that the final ppm using this method was about ~30 ppm (I cannot recall his exact numbers, but it was in this range).
I’ve used Fizz x when I was brewing beer. Works well in a glass carboy.
 

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My only concern is you’re not degassing after primary, or early in secondary. My experience is you want the CO2 out sooner.

If you know what you’re doing with nutrients I say pitch (get rid of) the kit supplied ones and go with your own. Kits are made for the general public who might not even care what’s in those packs. You could email the kit people to ask that question.

Sorbate, I guess that you are sizing up the situation acceptably. I add sorbate even if not back sweetening as insurance. For years I was adding sorbate at way higher levels, out of error, and don’t notice the difference. For very short time kits, i.e. 4 weeks, sorbate skipping might be disastrous to the rookie. I’d say that’s why it’s in there and why the kit says it’s important.
Got some answers on packets A,B and C. A acid blend, pectin and diammonium phosphate. B 55g cane sugar. C Urea and diammonium phosphate. IMHO sugar, diammonium phosphate and urea not the best products for wine.
 

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Got some answers on packets A,B and C. A acid blend, pectin and diammonium phosphate. B 55g cane sugar. C Urea and diammonium phosphate. IMHO sugar, diammonium phosphate and urea not the best products for wine.

I'm curious what are you basing this on... research, opinion, real life experience? If not using the included packets, do you plan to scrap these and use goferm and a different nutrient?
 

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I'm curious what are you basing this on... research, opinion, real life experience? If not using the included packets, do you plan to scrap these and use goferm and a different nutrient?
Research and other wine makers opinions I value highly. I’m not going to scrap anything. I am interested to see what happens following their directions to the letter.
 
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I'm curious what are you basing this on... research, opinion, real life experience? If not using the included packets, do you plan to scrap these and use goferm and a different nutrient?
I'm seeing a fair number of long cherished rules ("rack off the gross lees quickly") questioned by new practices ("Extended Maceration"), so like @wineview, I'm keeping an open mind. FWK is not batting 1.000 ... but they are seeking feedback, learning, adapting, and improving. We do not get that from any other kit vendor.

A Tavola Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are supposed to arrive tomorrow. I'm going to follow the instructions and provide feedback on what works and what doesn't. Time will tell, but I'm expecting good things.
 

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I for one am definitely looking forward to hearing people's opinions and experiences with FWK and hearing what they would change or not change. Especially as these wines mature.
 
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I for one am definitely looking forward to hearing people's opinions and experiences with FWK and hearing what they would change or not change. Especially as these wines mature.
If you want a quick drinker, make a Tavola with no skin packs. It will not have the depth of a Forte (or a Tavola with skin packs), but with be nice-n-bright. I'm doing either Tavola no skin packs or Forte -- quick or long ....
 

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If you want a quick drinker, make a Tavola with no skin packs. It will not have the depth of a Forte (or a Tavola with skin packs), but with be nice-n-bright. I'm doing either Tavola no skin packs or Forte -- quick or long ....

If I bought another, I think my wife would divorce me. She already thinks I'm crazy. Plus I'm literally out of room at this point. Maybe in 6 to 12 months.
 

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As far as vacuum de-gasing - don't bother. I tried it, put in a serious effort and guess what, time and Mother Nature do an equal or better job. The secret is time. It's sitting in glass carboys for 2 months and is pretty much degassed. Then it sits in a Better Bottle of 4 more months before I decide what to do with it. No gas issues at all and no running a vacuum pump for anything other than transferring. I use winemaker81's method of a drill mounted whip at the 1st rack where I add the settling agents. If you are running low on wine, don't speed yours up, just go down to Trader Joe's and get some 3-buck chuck.
 
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